Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Our Hero Brian

Our Hero Brian
By Norma Yamamoto

What is it like for an 18-year-old high school senior to find out that he has two inoperable pineal brain tumors? Am I going to die? Why me? Why now? These were just some of the questions that ran through our son Brian's mind.
For two months we didn't know what was happening to our son - he lost weight, wasn't eating and was not himself. He withered away right before our eyes from 140 pounds to 120 pounds in a month, for no apparent reason.
After complaining of double vision, an MRI of the brain was taken and the tumors discovered. We were all shocked, but it answered our question as to why he had the anorectic symptoms.
After the initial shock, Brian had a few days of ups and downs accepting and understanding what really happened as well as the treatment that lay ahead.
Radiation treatments began right after Christmas and with a positive attitude, he surprised us all and sailed through them. Despite being a little tired, he continued going to school every day. His classmates and teachers were amazed.
After the treatments ended he started practicing with the varsity basketball team. He was able to play a few minutes in a few games just before the season ended, and they were momentous occasions. Just seeing him on the court brought tears and cheers from everyone in the stands who knew what he had been through. Thanks to a very understanding coach (whose wife had breast cancer), he was able to stay on the team throughout the season. At the end-of-season banquet, he was presented the Coaches Award because of the inspiration he showed his teammates, whether at practice or supporting them at their games. Though times were tough, he never gave up. He gave 110 percent of his time and energy.
Then chemotherapy started for five consecutive days, then on days nine and 16 again, for four months. Hair loss, fatigue, poor appetite and constipation were some of the "minor" complications he suffered. These he took in stride and tried to work around them.
During this time an older family friend was diagnosed with lung cancer. Because of Brian's great outlook he was able to talk to our friend, sharing encouragement through rough times.
He attended school for three out of four weeks a month during this time. Amazingly, he kept up with his studies with the help of understanding teachers, friends and the school psychologist. Though he missed some important senior events because of chemotherapy, he graduated with his class with distinguished honors! He was surprised when he was selected the Most Inspirational Male Athlete of the year.
Summer vacation was a welcomed change for Brian as well as the whole family. It was a time for kicking back, having fun and feeling good. We spent a month in Hawaii relaxing and visiting friends and relatives. Now Brian is looking forward to a fresh start this fall at UCLA!
Our family has been through a lot together, but Brian showed us that with perseverance, no matter how devastating the situation is, it can be conquered. His positive attitude and constant smile, day after day despite enduring painful, frightening situations, made us all very proud of him. I know he has grown a lot through this experience and is ready to face the world.
Brian, we wish you happiness and success in everything you do. Remember: Mom, Dad and sister Amy will always be here for you. We love you!

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